Temporal Bone Trauma

Temporal bone trauma usually is caused by blunt head injury. Damage to the temporal bone typically requires the application of great force and may cause fracture, hemorrhage, nerve trauma, vascular damage, or disruption of the middle or inner ear structures. Associated intracranial injuries, such as extra-axial hemorrhage, shear (or diffuse axonal injury), and brain contusion, are common.

Potential complications of temporal bone fracture include infection (meningitis), hearing loss, facial (and other cranial) nerve injury, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak/otorrhea, and perilymphatic fistula. Early identification of temporal bone trauma is essential to managing the injury and avoiding complications.

Historically, temporal bone fractures were diagnosed clinically, with imaging playing a minor role in initial evaluation. After the advent of computed tomography (CT) scanning, the high contrast and spatial resolution of this modality provided detailed images of fractures and their complications. Surgery may be required to treat complications related to temporal bone trauma.